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					How to be an effective advocate

            Sue Lachenmayr
  New Jersey Society for Public Health
                         Sue Lachenmayr
• Certified Health Educator
• Media and advocacy training at the university, state and national
• Develops grassroots coalitions, activity plans to increase preventive
  service initiatives, health education programs for health professionals
  and beneficiaries
• Douglass College, BS, Psychology
• UMDNJ School of Public Health, MPH

  Sue is President-Elect of the Society for Public Health Education
  (SOPHE), is Past President of the New Jersey Chapter of SOPHE, and
  has a gubernatorial appointment to the Commission on Aging. She is
  an adjunct professor at UMDNJ School of Public Health and a
  Certified health education consultant for the New Jersey State
                       Learning Objectives
• Learn what advocacy is and why it is important to public health
• Understand steps to take to get involved in the legislative process
• Identify effective strategies for meeting with a legislator
• Identify effective strategies for media advocacy

                     Performance Objectives
•   Know how a bill becomes a law
•   Know the difference between advocacy and lobbying
•   Know how to present testimony before a legislative committee
•   Gain confidence in becoming an advocate
• To speak for those who have no voice or
  representation - effective advocacy works
  to create a shift in public opinion, money,
  and other resources and to support an issue,
  policy or constituency.
Advocacy is an essential function
 of public health practitioners
• Public health policy is often developed
  without benefit of input from the public
  health community

• Legislators and policy-makers frequently
  have little or no knowledge of public health
  and its functions
 Be an advocate ... All it takes is
• 1 minute to leave a telephone message for
  your legislator
• 3-5 minutes to photocopy and share an
  article of interest with a legislator
• 5-10 minutes to send a letter or e-mail to
  your legislator
• 10-15 minutes to visit a legislative website
  to get the latest information on bills
    How to get involved in the
       legislative process
• Provide testimony at a hearing
• Write or call elected officials
• Find community members who will
  champion the issue
• Advocate with government officials to
  change the laws
   Steps for successful advocacy
• Identify an issue
• Identify supportive policy makers
• Work with policy makers who have decision-
  making power on your issue
• Identify potential partners for your issue
• Motivate grassroots support
• Develop a media strategy
• Understand how a bill becomes law
       Pick a “winnable” issue
 What can be gained or lost by supporting (or
  opposing) the issue?
 Are you and others committed to this issue?
 What community resources are available?
 Who are allies and adversaries on this issue?
 Who else shares this problem? What would
  those who share the problem gain or lose by
 What laws already exist to deal with the issue?
     How to influence legislators
• Make a financial contribution, even a small
  one puts your name on the legislator’s list of
• Provide factual information about key issues.
• Visit your legislator at the local district
  office, state or national office or attend town
• Provide written information about what
  action your legislator should take.
How to influence legislators (cont.)
• Recognize legislators with letters of
  appreciation or a press release when they
  introduce or vote for a bill you support.
• Involve constituents/community
  members who have been affected.
• Recommend a solution so the legislator
  can rectify the situation
  Meeting with your legislator
• Know the facts.
 Research all sides of the issue
• Know when and how to contact policy
 If the legislator is unavailable, meet with
 a legislative aide
  – the aide is often the person who informs your
    legislator about key issues
Meeting with your legislator (cont.)

• Send a letter, a fax, or telephone to request
  an appointment
  Identify yourself as a constituent
 Be an expert.
  Share factual information about the issue
 Arrive on time and keep it simple
  Provide a a brief written overview of the issue
Meeting with your legislator (cont.)

• Be patient
  Give the policy maker few days to review
  the issue
• Follow up with a letter
  Thank your legislator for meeting with you;
• Ask the legislator for a response to your
 Identify potential partners for your

• Find other groups who recognize the
  importance of this issue
• Invite them to join with you on this
• Identify areas where compromise
  might be needed
     Motivate grassroots support

• Constituents who are directly affected by
  the issue can provide personal stories to
  illustrate why legislation is needed
• Building self-efficacy of new advocates by:
  – Defining the issues
  – Developing communication skills
  – Providing opportunities for practice to increase
       Develop a media strategy

• Make sure both legislators and the public
  understand and remember your message
• Begin by answering the following
  – What do we want to accomplish?
  – Who has the power to make it happen?
  – What do they need to hear?
  Develop a media strategy (cont.)

• An effective message
  – Makes a strong impact
  – Is accurate
  – Touches people
• Develop a message that:
  – Describes the problem
  – States why it is important
  – Identifies the desired policy outcome you want
  Develop a media strategy (cont.)

• Begin with your conclusion (your primary
• Keep your message short
• Avoid using complex statistical data
• Avoid using technical terms
  Develop a media strategy (cont.)

• Repeat your message at least three times in
  any conversation or presentation
• Use the same key words each time
• Stay on message - don’t get sidetracked
       Providing testimony
• Prepare a written statement in
• Keep your testimony brief.
 State your name, organization, and
 your position on the bill
• Use sound bites.
• Use personal experiences to
  enhance testimony.
   Providing testimony (cont.)
• Avoid emotional testimony or
  inflammatory words that might
  alienate committee members.
• Listen to prior speakers.
• Avoid repeating previously
  stated facts.
   Providing testimony (cont.)
• Don’t be disappointed if
  members of the committee are
  not attentive.
 Those who did not hear it will
 receive a copy of your written
• Expect questions or comments.
      How a bill becomes law
• Idea developed
• Legislative sponsor identified
• Bill is drafted by the Office of
  Legislative Services
• “First reading” in Senate/Assembly
• Bill number is assigned
• Bill referred to appropriate committee
 How a bill becomes law (cont.)
 Bill posted in committee
   public hearings
   committee vote on bill
 Successful bill “marked up”
 “Second reading” called by House
  Speaker or Senate President
 How a bill becomes law (cont.)
 “Third reading” – bill is voted on by
  members of House or Senate
 If approved by majority, bill goes to
  second house
 Governor’s/President’s signature on
 Bill becomes law
         Advocacy Vs lobbying
• Advocacy: contact with a policy maker to discuss
  a social or economic problem as long as no
  specific bill number is mentioned.

• Grassroots lobbying: an appeal to the general
  public asking them to to call or write their
  Congressman to support a bill

• Lobbying: asking a policy maker to support (or
  oppose specific legislation)
 Public health practitioners
  provide policy expertise
• Assess community needs to determine
  key issues

• Motivate community members to action

• Provide training for community
  members to become effective

• Inform legislators about constituents’
                            Suggested Reading
    Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. (1994). Tips for testifying. Berkeley,
    ASSIST. (1993). ASSIST training materials, volume VI: Media advocacy:
     A strategic tool for change.
    American Public Health Association (2000). 2000 APHA Media Advocacy
     Manual. Washington, DC.
     Lachenmayr, S (2001) How to impact health policy: advocacy and legislation,
      Community Health Education Methods: A Practitioner’s Guide, Editors RJ
      Bensley, J Brookins-Fisher, Sudbury Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett


     Vernick, JS. (1999). Lobbying and advocacy for the public’s health: what
are the
        limits for nonprofit organizations? American Journal of Public Health
        pp. 1425-1429).

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